Mandy Metcalf: ODOT Strikes Again. OK, so we all know that ODOT has completely bungled the Cleveland Innerbelt Bridge project not to mention the rest of the Innerbelt redesign. And now Mandy’s article makes it clear that they have done the same to the West Shoreway project.
A process that was supposed to be all about removing barriers and increasing access to the lakefront now appears to have evolved into a project that has no purpose besides putting some consultants and contractors to work.
On this “New” West Shoreway, can folks from Lakewood still drive to and from work without stopping for lights? Of course — wouldn’t want to inconvenience them! Are there still lots of ramps chewing up acres of lakefront property? We actually get more of ’em! Get rid of the scary tunnels? Nope — more of them too! Is the road following the same tortuous route? Definitely! How about the unsafe bridge? Definitely keeping that!
And now in this process of improving nothing, ODOT is also planning to tear down some of the few remaining old buildings on the east end of Detroit Ave for — as Mandy clearly proves — no reason at all. And without really telling anybody about it. Amazing.
I hate to say it, but the City needs to shut this project down and start over. It might mean forfeiting a ton of money, but there’s no point in spending anything on a project that is taking us so far away from our original goal.
For a refresher on the basics of that goal, look at Chicago’s Lake Shore Dr. between Randolph and Roosevelt. Even at up to 10 lanes of traffic, that section of Lake Shore is far preferable than the current and future freeway that ODOT wants to give us.
I think the core issue in both the West Shoreway and Innerbelt situations is that the City feels that it has no expertise in transportation planning and so has simply handed all the decision making over to ODOT. ODOT then designs whatever it wants. And in all cases, what ODOT wants is to move traffic through an area as quickly and as cheaply as possible.
Here’s the deal: Sometimes “quickly and cheaply” isn’t what’s best. Sometimes it’s best if traffic doesn’t move quickly. Believe it or not, sometimes it’s best if traffic slows down or even stops! Sometimes it’s best to pay a little more and get something nicer.
But since ODOT are the “experts” — and because they control so much of the money — we defer to them and end up with what they want instead of what we want.
Cleveland and Cuyahoga County need to tell ODOT what we want and simply refuse to accept any designs that don’t meet those goals. We need to realize that we are actually the “experts” on our own communities. We need to start acting that way.